We left Pelenque around 8am and headed to the a tiny border town called Bethel. Clearing customs was a non issue, there was none, but somehow three out of the four of us forgot to pay some other hidden fee. We almost had to go back three hours to the nearest bank but I managed to sweet talk the lady at immigration into letting us pay there. We were now out of Mexico and heading for Guatemala. There was only one slight obstacle, the river between the two countries.
This crossing is one of the smallest between Mexico and Guatemala and is without a bridge or ferry. It’s mainly for locals and the odd backpacker. Well it’s an adventure were on and adventure we’re looking for so we decided to try and put the bikes into these tiny boats, one bike per boat. We weren’t sure if it was possible but you never know until you try. The boat owners looked a little nervous as well but they have to make a living I guess so they were willing to give it a go as well.
Just getting the bikes to the boats wasn’t an easy task so we unloaded all the gear to lighten the load as much as possible. We had 3 boats pull up together and ram there bow’s into the muddy bank. Wade went first sliding his bike down the steep bank through the mud towards the little plank resting precariously on the edge of the first boat. He slid the bike to the waters edge, cut the engine and we carefully lifted the bike on. These bikes weigh 260km so it took four of us to get it in and a few more guys to hold the boat’s steady. Once inside the bike barely fitted and looked a little out of place. We repeated this procedure until we had all three bikes wedged into three boats.
We still weren’t sure if this was going to work, the boats looked top heavy and could flip over as we left the bank. My captain was fairly nervous that he might loose his vessel when moving off the shore. I wasn’t too concerned about the boat, at least that would still float upside down, I was a bit concerned about losing my bike to the depths of this mighty river though, at least until the wake from another boat rocked us about and we knew she was steady. Off we went up stream to find some where to unload. The first spot was no good but the second looked alright.
We rammed the 3 boats nose first into the muddy banks again and proceeded to unload. Getting the bikes off was a lot harder as we had to take them off backwards and carry them up some steps so we enlisted the help of some locals who were amazed at what we were doing. The whole process took about two hours but we were finally in Guatemala.
We then had to find immigration as this is not a regular crossing. It was about 30 min away up a dirt track in the pissing rain.It was a fairly simple procedure when we got there, quick, painless and free.
The people here are fantastic and very helpful which after Mexico is welcome change. We rode to a the town of Flores to spend the night, it’s a nice little place in the middle of a lake. Not too many gringos around so all the hotels are fairly empty and cheap.
The next morning we visited the mother of all Maya ruins, Tekal. We left the bikes in Flores, took a taxi and spent four hours walking around the jungle with a guide that just didn’t shut up . He was very interesting for a while but there’s only so much info you can take in. The ruins were cool alright but I think we were more interested in the wild life in the surrounding jungle. It was full of spider and howler monkeys that kept throwing seeds at us.
The next morning we left early for Guatemala city, it was only 460 km away but we never made it. We ended up taking a dirt road through the mountains for about 50 km. The “road” quickly turned into a track that was clinging to the cliff edge in places. One slip and it’s all over and just to make it more exciting there were loose rocks all over the road. I flew into a ditch at one stage but I’d much rather that then flying off a cliff. I’ve not been on the” road of death” in Bolivia yet but after what we’ve just done I’m sure it’ll be a piece of cake. We’ve parked up in some little village for the night tired and sore, Guatemala city will have to wait until tomorrow.